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Letter from the Director: Summer 2012

Hood Quarterly, summer 2012
Michael Taylor, Director

This summer we have an exciting roster of exhibitions that speaks to the primary mission of the Hood Museum of Art, which is to teach with original works of art. Every year, thousands of school-age children and their teachers visit the Hood to look at, analyze, and interpret works of art using the museum’s Learning to Look method. Thousands more adults do the same by visiting our changing exhibitions and collection displays and participating in our nearly one hundred lectures, gallery talks, workshops, and other programs throughout the year. Dartmouth students and faculty also access thousands of art objects not on public view each year in the museum’s Bernstein Study-Storage Center. Students tackle the questions that arise when engaging with human creativity and imagination over the centuries and around the globe, learning through observation, conversation, and written expression. The Hood staff is deeply committed to this teaching process, and we continue to explore new and creative means of furthering it by allowing our visitors to explore original works of art in deeper and more resonant ways.

A case in point is the summer exhibition Looking Back at Earth: Contemporary Environmental Photography from the Hood Museum of Art’s Collection, on view from July 7 through August 26. This past winter, twelve students signed up for Museum Collecting 101, a non-curricular course that the Hood offers annually. Generously supported through gifts from the Krehbiel Foundation and the Class of 1978, this course teaches students about how and why a museum collects works of art and then invites them to select a work for the museum’s permanent collection. This course focused on environmental photography, as did the spring 2011 course, when students chose J Henry Fair’s 2009 photograph Arsenic and Water. This work and many others in the museum’s collection—including two by the Spanish artist Daniel Beltrá that were chosen by Museum Collecting 101 students in 2009—shaped the exhibition Looking Back at Earth, co-curated by Katherine Hart and Hood senior intern Chanon “Kenji” Praepipatmongkol, Class of 2013. This highly topical exhibition was also planned with students and faculty from the Environmental Studies and Studio Art Departments as well as students active in sustainability practices on campus.

Two other exhibitions this summer showcase recent gifts to the museum. The Wise Collection exhibition celebrates contemporary Japanese drawings, prints, and ceramics, and we thank longtime Hood friends and supporters Joanne and Doug Wise for their generosity and dedication to promoting learning about Japanese art and culture. The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States: New Hampshire showcases the fifty works of contemporary art that the Vogels recently donated to the Hood Museum of Art. We are grateful to the Vogels and their partners—the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services—for their endeavor to divide their collection among museums in all fifty states. The Hood Museum of Art was delighted to have been chosen as New Hampshire’s recipient of this significant gift.

The Hood continues to be recognized for the quality of its exhibitions and programs. This past April, we were honored with a prestigious award from the United States section of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA), the only organization to publically recognize excellence in museum and gallery exhibitions. I am thrilled to announce that the Hood’s spring 2011 exhibition Fluxus and the Essential Questions of Life won first place in the category “Best Show in a University Gallery” at the AICA’s annual ceremony in New York. Finally, it gives me great pleasure to announce that Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects has been selected to design the expansion of the Hood Museum of Art. This distinguished New York–based firm presented us with an inspired design proposal that responded to our vision of transforming the museum into an ideal learning environment with new teaching and gallery spaces to facilitate the exploration of the Hood’s global collections. Tod Williams and Billie Tsien have a proven track record in creating beautiful spaces that invoke learning and interaction with works of art, and this was a strong factor in our decision to hire them. The special fall 2012 issue of the Hood Quarterly will be devoted to the expansion, and I can’t wait to share the exciting details with you then. Meanwhile, I look forward to meeting you when you next come to the museum and trust that your visit will be an enjoyable one.

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